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2012 Draft Prep: On the defensive

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For some people, starting eight, nine or 10 players just isn't enough. Sometimes you need to start at least 15. For those people, defensive players are part of the league game plan and part of the enjoyment of Fantasy Football.

When you are asked to start individual defensive players (IDPs), the game becomes a bit more challenging. You must focus on both sides of the line of scrimmage and all players around the league, not just the customary quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Everything from draft strategies to waiver claims become complicated.

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Using IDPs isn't for everybody but it's becoming increasingly popular. Some leagues have added one or two defenders to their starting lineup requirements as a way to "test" whether or not they should be bigger parts of rosters. Other leagues have already decided that IDPs is more fun and ask owners to use eleven of them -- that's on top of a deep starting lineup.

Picking good IDPs is lot like picking good offensive players: Get guys who are around the ball. Ball-hawking defensive backs and playmakers in the front seven are always desirable Fantasy options because they're racking up stats by making tackles, registering sacks, forcing fumbles, deflecting or intercepting passes and scoring touchdowns. The only exception, and it's a weird one, are stud cornerbacks who don't get thrown at as much.

Like yardage for typical Fantasy players, tackles are the primary stat to use to judge IDPs. Most leagues that use defenders rely on both solo and assisted tackles to give points, with the other defensive stats boosting totals. You might see all tackles count for one point; passes defensed, forced fumbles and recoveries count for two; sacks and interceptions count for three; and touchdowns count for six. Obviously, because a good defender will make anywhere from 90 to 150 total tackles in a season versus a handful of other stats, tackles are king.

We're going to provide you a rank list for IDPs (good through the start of training camp), but a sharp Fantasy owner should always keep an eye on the waiver wire for rising talent. That's the key to success with defenders. Just like offensive players, defenders will come out of nowhere to post big stats and be helpful options to your team. Win the battle of uncovering waiver-wire gems, and you'll be on your way to IDP-league success.

IDP rankings
  Defensive linemen Linebackers Defensive backs
1 Jared Allen Patrick Willis Roman Harper
2 Jason Pierre-Paul James Laurinaitis Tyvon Branch
3 Kamerion Wimbley Curtis Lofton Yeremiah Bell
4 Julius Peppers D'Qwell Jackson Morgan Burnett
5 Trent Cole Derrick Johnson Eric Weddle
6 Jason Babin London Fletcher Charles Woodson
7 Cameron Wake DeMarcus Ware Mark Barron
8 Justin Smith Karlos Dansby Jairus Byrd
9 Adrian Clayborn Chad Greenway Antoine Bethea
10 Calais Campbell Sean Weatherspoon Charles Tillman
11 Charles Johnson Pat Angerer Kam Chancellor
12 Justin Tuck Stephen Tulloch Antrel Rolle
13 Jeremy Mincey Brian Cushing Bernard Pollard
14 Jabaal Sheard Sean Lee Eric Berry
15 Haloti Ngata James Harrison Quintin Mikell
16 Mario Williams Desmond Bishop Dawan Landry
17 Chris Clemons NaVorro Bowman George Wilson
18 Cliff Avril James Anderson Earl Thomas
19 Ahtyba Rubin Daryl Washington Devin McCourty
20 Elvis Dumervil Lance Briggs Dashon Goldson
21 Kyle Williams Lawrence Timmons DeAngelo Hall
22 Matt Shaughnessy DeMeco Ryans Malcolm Jenkins
23 Shea McClellin Von Miller Brandon Flowers
24 Andre Branch Brian Urlacher Tramon Williams
25 Chris Long Ray Lewis Reggie Nelson
26 Israel Idonije Donald Butler Steve Gregory
27 Osi Umenyiora David Harris Joe Haden
28 John Abraham Tamba Hali Brandon Carr
29 Kyle Vanden Bosch Akeem Dent Gerald Sensabaugh
30 J.J. Watt Daryl Smith Kenny Phillips
31 Ndamukong Suh Mason Foster Richard Marshall
32 Darnell Dockett Colin McCarthy Morris Claiborne
33 Brian Robison Paul Posluszny Jason McCourty
34 Geno Atkins Luke Kuechly Darian Stewart
35 James Hall Perry Riley T.J. Ward
36 Mark Anderson David Hawthorne Harrison Smith
37 Derrick Morgan Clay Matthews Ryan Clark
38 Trevor Scott Bobby Wagner Troy Polamalu
39 Richard Seymour Jon Beason Michael Griffin
40 Marcell Dareus LaMarr Woodley Patrick Peterson

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Kubiak wants Peyton Manning comfortable with playbook
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:54 pm ET) Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak wants to make sure that all of his players are comfortable with the new offensive playbook, including quarterback Peyton Manning, reports ESPN.

“I think you prepare to help him call that game throughout the course of the week," Kubiak said. “A lot of people put emphasis on him calling plays at the line, but you’ve also prepared to do that throughout the course of the week, so you, as a coach, 'Here’s what I think is best in that situation.' In a lot of ways you’re still working together. You’re just going about it a different way."

“You never want to put a player in a position where he’s doing something he’s uncomfortable with," Kubiak said. “One of things about having a veteran, especially like Peyton, he’s going to let you know, 'This is what I do best and this is what I feel comfortable with.' That’s what you need to go do as a coach. You might tweak things here or there that you think may help, but you’re never going to take him out of his comfort zone and what he feels like he does best.”

Manning, 39, recently took a pay cut of $4 million to help clear salary cap space for the team.


LB Brandon Magee still committed to playing in NFL
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) After being released by the Buccaneers, linebacker Brandon Magee is going to participate in spring training with the Boston Red Sox. That being said, he is still committed to playing in the NFL, according to Pro Football Talk. 

Magee's agent, Blake Baratz, emailed Pro Football Talk regarding his client's desire to resume his NFL career.

“There have been rumors circulating that Brandon Magee, who was recently released by Tampa Bay, has given up football with the intention of playing professional baseball. This could not be further from the truth,” Baratz wrote. “While he does attend spring training for a few weeks up until the beginning of the NFL off-season program, he is 100% fully committed to playing in the NFL.”

Magee, 24, has seen action in 17 games the last two seasons, nine of which were in 2014 with the Buccaneers. He has registered 10 total tackles in his career.


Bill O'Brien: 'Sky's the limit' for WR DeAndre Hopkins
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) With Andre Johnson now in Indy, DeAndre Hopkins enters the 2015 season as the Texans' undisputed No. 1 receiver.

“He had a really good year last year and the sky’s the limit with Hop (Hopkins)," coach Bill O'Brien told NFL Network. "He’s an excellent young player who works extremely hard and we’re looking forward to putting together our whole receiving corps and he should be the leader of that.”

Hopkins led Houston with 1,210 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns last year. He has 128 catches for 2,012 yards and eight scores in his two NFL seasons.


Giants RB Shane Vereen will be more than third-down back
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Giants running back Shane Vereen is being viewed as much more than just a third-down running back, according to nj.com.

The team is excited about his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but he'll be relied on to do more than that.

"I see him in that regard as a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, a pass protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three-wide offense in the run game, if you will, which is very prevalent today in our sport," coach Tom Coughlin said at the NFL Annual Meetings this week. "So I see him in that regard."

Last season the Giants did not have one receiving touchdown by a running back. Vereen, formerly of the Patriots, had three receiving touchdowns out of the backfield last year.

"Well, you know what [Vereen] can do. Quite frankly, it's something from an attack standpoint we've had some success with, but not to the extent that he has," Coughlin said. "When you look at Vereen, a lot of the [Tom] Brady hookup with Vereen was the ball was almost automatically going to him. First down, if it was zone coverage, they were dropping the ball down and he would scoot. So we know that. Will we open it up to more parts of it?"

The 26-year-old has 907 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground, adding 107 receptions for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns through the air in four years. 


Chiefs confident they'll reach deal with Justin Houston
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told the Kansas City Star he's confident the team will sign standout outside linebacker Justin Houston to a long-term deal. The Chiefs put a $13.1 million nonexclusive franchise tag on Houston, which he has yet to sign.

“He knows, and his agent knows, how much we want him back,” Hunt said. “We just all have to be patient, and eventually, we’re going to get him signed to a long-term deal.”

Houston has 48.5 sacks in his four-year career. 

“I’ve been very consistent in saying that we not only value Justin as a football player, that we not only value Justin as a person and leader, and we want him to be a Chief for life,” Hunt said.


49ers waive OT Jonathan Martin
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) The 49ers announced they waived offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, who played in 15 games last season, sarting nine. Martin, 25, was acquired by San Fran in a March 2014 trade with the Dolphins.

He has played in 38 career games with 32 starts.


Sean Payton: C.J. Spiller the 'most explosive player on the field'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:37 pm ET) Saints coach Sean Payton is thrilled to have landed running back C.J. Spiller, who will team with Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in one of the league's top backfields.

"I think we expected Spiller to be somewhere else with a higher number. But it all worked out," Payton told The Advocate.

Spiller joined the Saints on a four-year, $16 million deal.

“His cutup is unbelievable,” Payton said of Spiller. ”And I’m not talking about last season because I think it became challenging, but you go back a couple of years and start looking at his screen reel, a sweep reel, a return reel.

“So when you watch his film you think of a lot of things he can do. He’s physical, he’s the most explosive player on the field a lot of times when you’re watching him. … So he’s an exciting player that clearly heading into free agency there wasn’t any thought about and then after that first rush there was some interest and I think to his agent’s credit they looked at it from a how he was going to be used standpoint, the system, the offense and wanting to be a part of it and we feel the same way.”


Browns C Alex Mack to participate in OTAs
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:17 pm ET) Browns center Alex Mack, who's rehabbing from a broken leg suffered in Week 6 last year, will take part in OTAs, though it's unclear to what extent, reports ESPN.com. Mack, 29, is a key to Cleveland's running game.

The team averaged 146.4 rushing yards with him, 90.5 without him, per the website.

“We’re making some pretty steady progress, doing what we need to do to get out there for training camp,” Mack said. “But it’s more important that I’m out there for game day. Those two feelings have to balance out. It just takes time, having patience. Two weeks after the surgery, I wanted to be up and running around. I’m not 18 anymore.”


Vikings release LB Justin Anderson, G Jordan McCray
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(4:17 pm ET) The Vikings have released linebacker Justin Anderson and guard Jordan McCray

Anderson spent time with the Giants in 2014, playing in two games. He was then released and picked up by the Vikings.

McCray spent time on the practice squad of the Packers last season. He was signed by the team in November before being cut. 


Report: DeAngelo Hall could move to free safety
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:40 pm ET) The Redskins are looking for a starter at free safety and could move veteran corner DeAngelo Hall into that role, reports the Washington Post. Hall, 31, is coming back from two surgeries to fix the ruptured Achilles' tendon he suffered last year.

Coach Jay Gruden mentioned to the paper that many free safeties are converted cornerbacks, including Oakland's Charles Woodson. Hall has said previously he'd be open to such a move, but he and the team have not discussed it yet, per the paper.


 
 
 
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